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Mark Pafford

Surprise (or not): Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda joins the Republican Party

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Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda

As long expected, Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda is pulling a reverse Charlie Crist. The former state representative for Tallahassee, who quit the Democratic Party and became an independent shortly before being term limited out of office last year, now has officially become a Republican. Rehwinkel Vasilinda, 56, officially announced the switch at the 2017 Leon GOP Lincoln Day Dinner held in Tallahassee Thursday night. “We are excited to welcome (her) into the Republican Party,” Leon County GOP chairman Evan Power said. “Her switch really shows how the…

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Hillsborough County chair Les Miller endorses Ed Narain in SD 19 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Democratic Rep. Ed Narain announced Monday that Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Lesley “Les” Miller has endorsed his bid for the District 19 seat in the Florida Senate. “I’ve known Ed Narain since he was a student leader at the University of South Florida and now as State Representative,” said Miller, who himself served 14 years as a lawmaker. “His leadership and ability to bring people together are rare features in elected officials today.” “Having been elected Chair of the Legislative…

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Term limits group slams Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff for their stance on the issue

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The group U.S. Term Limits, which bills itself as the leader of the grassroots movement to install term limits in Congress, is bashing Florida Senate candidates Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff for their specific plans on how long a member of Congress can serve in Washington before being term-limited out. U.S. Term Limits says the two Republicans term-limit proposals are a “sham designed to win votes” with no benefit at all to the term limits cause. USTL President Philip Blumel says both candidates plan for a 12-year limit in…

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Tampa City Council honors Arthenia Joyner as her legislative career winds down

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Outgoing state legislator Arthenia Joyner has been a pioneer throughout her professional career in law and politics, and with just months to go before she ends her legislative career in Tallahassee, she was given a commemoration Thursday by the Tampa City Council honoring her work. The 73-year-old lifelong Democrat currently represents Tampa’s Senate District 19, where she serves as the Senate Minority Leader, the first African-American women ever to ascend to that position. She was also the first black woman to practice…

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Florida pols react to Gwen Graham’s 2018 plans announcement

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U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham made waves on Thursday when she said she’s eyeing a 2018 run for Florida Governor. Here’s an early look at what Sunshine State politicos are saying regarding the Panhandle’s first Congresswoman’s announcement. “Gwen has been a great partner to work with in the House. From her work on the Apalachicola Bay to fighting oil drilling off our beaches, she always puts Florida first. She’s accomplished much, and I know we’re going to continue to see great things from…

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In Florida, most legislative documents are public records

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When Florida state House Minority Leader Mark Pafford puts a 6 a.m. workout before his legislative meetings on his daily schedule, it’s a public record. When concerned parent Kimberly Jones of Plantation emails House Speaker Steve Crisafulli saying she has two children going to Florida State University and wants him to oppose a bill allowing guns on college campuses, that’s a public record too. Reporters and other members of the public can get copies of those and almost all other…

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Environmentalists say water protection bill has loopholes

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A massive bill to protect Florida’s springs, waterways and groundwater appears headed for passage at the start of the coming Legislative Session, despite objections from environmentalists who say it’s been weakened by loopholes and the influence of industry and agriculture interests. Critics say they still hope floor amendments will close loopholes in Senate and House companion bills (SB 552 and HB 7005) and are trying to pressure legislators. Their legislative backers, including Orlando Democratic Sen. Darren Soto and House Minority…

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